Animal and Garden Chores

Ron and Beth recently had to cover some animal chores for about 10 days because the young crew was away. Ron took on milking the cow, checking her water, and extending her pasture as needed; feeding, watering and letting out the chickens; and watering the sheep and goats. He regularly milks his goat and moves her kids twice a day to new grass. The time his daily chores took each morning doubled.

Beth took on the daytime and evening chores. She found out where lots of things were and stretched muscles that aren’t used in household chores. (Cows, pigs and turkeys are managed by an older son who was around all week. We are glad we didn’t have to do those chores, too!)

Garden chores were basically (harvest) tomatoes, beans, squash, repeat. These chores need to be done every 2-3 days or the vegetables split, stop producing, or get too large, respectively. So every day involved harvesting.

On the hot afternoons she would check water for chickens, pigs, sheep and goats. She would also check goats that were staked to make sure they weren’t tangled.

Late in the day she would collect the eggs from the Taj Mahal. The nest boxes are built into the right side. While we can collect eggs from the outside, many times we go inside and collect them that way. Currently we are getting about 3 1/2 dozen a day.

Sometimes she would hear and see the Rhode Island Red hen with her yellow chicks hiding in the weeds. The hen always makes a humming sound, and the chicks make peeping sounds, so if they are around, they can be heard, though not always seen.

Each evening she washed and boxed the eggs. Then after dark she went out to lock the chickens in.

Usually 2-5 hens roosted on the tractor frame. While they might flap their wings when moved, they don’t peck or try to run away. They are quite docile and are easily moved into the Taj Mahal.

The mother hen nests on the ground with her chicks under her. We let her be and hope for the best.

These chores took a lot of the day. It is also harvest season, so each day we canned something – beans, beets, pear sauce, and pears. Two older sons, who were around evenings, helped with the prep work for these things. Life was steady!

We are grateful for the regular, faithful labor of the young crew. Good to have them go, good to have them come home!

Baby Chicks, the Natural Way

Last week we found this mother hen with her chicks. Over the week we have counted and she has 8 chicks.

Yesterday we saw a Rhode Island red hen with little yellow chicks. Put your I Spy eyes on and see if you can spot them. We don’t have a count yet.

The barred rock hen and chicks are still doing well.

We only have one rooster right now, so he must be the papa.

Poults (or Baby Turkeys)

The poults arrived last week. They are eating, drinking and socializing with their pipping sounds. They will be in the brooder for about 3-4 weeks until they feather out. Then they will move outdoors.

We are giving them antibiotic-free turkey feed with 28% protein. Once they move outside they will start getting this tote of local organic grain that is 23% protein. They need more protein at first to get a better start.

We are raising this to have fresh turkey for Thanksgiving. They will be processed on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Email us if you are interested in pre-ordering one of these.

What Do You Do with Beets?

Guest post by Carolyn O.

Every time we get fresh eggs from the farm we notice again how white the whites are and how bright the yellow yokes are. That makes them perfect for one of the prettiest dishes I make.  It’s also a very easy way to use leftover beets and extra eggs. I pickle them!

Pickled Beets


  • 4-6 Peeled hard-boiled eggs
  • Equal number of sliced or cubed cooked beets
  • About 1 cup of the water the beets were cooked in
  • 1/3-1/2 cup Apple cider vinegar
  • 1 small chopped onion, opt.
  • Sugar to taste, opt. up to 1/2 amt of vinegar
  • Cinnamon or cloves for a more sweet-gherkin taste, opt.


  • In a small sauce pan bring the vinegar, beet juice and sugar with any spices you add just to a boil and then pour the syrup over the beets, eggs and onions in a clean canning jar.
    Cover it and refrigerate for about 48 hours. The longer the wait the stronger the pickle taste, but every day the pink beet juice penetrates the egg further, dyeing more of the egg white until it is all pink.


You don’t need to boil the liquids, but can mix them in a clean bowl.
Do these in small batches so they get eaten before they get too old. These refrigerator pickles will keep two weeks or so if kept cold.
Put a nice pad of paper towels under the container, even in the fridge, because just a few drops of juice can really make a bright pink mess!

Baby Chicks

Most of our hens hang out under the Taj Mahal. They have food and water and grass to scratch. On the side under the windows are nest boxes they get to from inside their house. They lay their eggs and then got outside and lounge and scratch.

The family told me that a broody hen hatched some chicks over the weekend. She found a corner of the barn to lay her eggs and then sat on them for 21 days until they hatched.

I found mama hen this morning with her back feathers ruffled a bit because she didn’t want me (or the cat) bothering her. But no view of the chicks.

When I went out a few hours later, seven chicks were scratching and pecking just like mama hen was. Chicks hatch able to walk and scratch. They have some feathers, but not enough to keep them warm, so they need a heat lamp or a mama hen.

As I watched the chicks went under mom until finally all of them were warming up again. Fun to watch!

Then I went off to find the father. We only have 1 mature rooster right now so it wasn’t hard to figure out who he was.

Pretty papa who didn’t want to pose!

What Do You Do with a Large Zucchini?

You know those large zucchinis that suddenly came from nowhere? What can you use them for?

The simplest thing is to grate them for zucchini bread. You can get 4-8 cups depending on the size. Then you can make the bread now. OR you can freeze the shredded zucchini in the amount called for in the recipe and then make the bread later in the year. Shredded zucchini can also be used in carrot cakes or other quick breads. (I don’t have a favorite recipe; you will need to check your cookbook or google it.)

You can also cut off what you need to steam or boil as the day’s vegetable or to add to the mix of sauteed vegetables.

I have also used large zucchinis in place of pasta noodles. Several years ago I cut them in rounds and used them to make little pizzas.

This year I cut them in slices and attempted lasagna. I layered them in the lasagna pan with spaghetti sauce, cottage cheese and mozzarella cheese. It was a sort of soupy lasagna, edible and nutritious, but not excellent.

Peeling the zucchini first may have helped. Also either baking or steaming the slabs of zucchini for 10 minutes would have gotten them softer and may have reduced some of the liquid. If the recipe gets refined, I will add my improvements here.

Lots of options. Use them and enjoy them!

Beef and Vegetable Medley

This week’s medley was quite colorful: nice reds, greens and yellows.

I cup up a sirloin tip steak and browned it. It is the one on the right. It has no bone. The one of the left is a sirloin steak. It has a rim of fat on the right and a bone that juts up on the left. It would have worked as well.

These are the kinds of vegetables that I used. Top to bottom: green beans, red beets and greens, cauliflower, broccoli, patty pan squash, yellow summer squash, Swiss chard, zucchini. All of these were harvested here this past week. (Photo taken after meal, proportions not accurate.)

This recipe I cooked to the pot. I cooked the meat, then added the vegetables that I had until I thought it was enough for the family. We ate it over rice or over lettuce. Some added salt and others added Matson Hill Spice Blend at the table. All in all, it was a good meal!

Vegetable Medley

Recently I made a vegetable medley. Follow the pics to see the process.

Meat Birds

Our meat birds arrived in the mail in mid-June. They lived in our barn in the brooder. These birds are Freedom Rangers, which are raised specifically to range on pasture. They were active on arrival and have done well in the brooder.

We recently moved them outdoors into these moveable cages. The cages are completely enclosed in the back third providing shade and shelter from the weather. The front is enclosed in wire mesh allowing fresh air and sunshine.

The chicks are able to eat grass and other vegetation, and scratch for bugs. We also supply water and locally grown organic grains from Gianforte Farm in Cazenovia. We move the cages once a day and will move twice and three times a day as the chicks get older.

These birds will remain in the field until mid-August when we process them.